“We can never know about the days to come/But we think about them anyway/And wonder if I’m really with you now/Or just chasin’ after some finer day/Anticipation, anticipation is makin’ me late/Is keepin’ me waitin’/And tomorrow we might not be together/I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways/So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now/And stay right here/’cause these are the good old days/(These are the good old days…)Carly Simon, “Anticipation”
I’m waitin’ for Monday, July 12th. We’re all waitin’ for some marker day – with dread or with excitement. The day of somethin’ special, somethin’ awful, somethin’ inevitable, somethin’ life-changin’, somethin’ great. I don’t know yet which of those mine will be. I only know that there will be a CT scan, blood work and a visit with my hematologist. It will be my six-month checkup to see if I’m still cancer-free. Those hyphenated words, “cancer-free,” make me catch my breath this time.
At three months, I had laid claim to those two words. I was confident. I was not going to spend time worrying about any bad news. What would be, would be. I was not going to be one of those cancer “survivors” who spends time even thinking about the possibility of its return. Oh, I was so cool, calm and collected. And with good reason. I was still “cancer-free,” as it turned out.
Why I am not so breezy about the future this time is a mystery. Except that I have had some “night sweats” over the past 3 weeks or so. Nothing dramatic, but still, the ones that leave you drenched with sweat are one of the signs of lymphoma. So maybe, I say to myself, these are just an “early warning” of what is transpiring in the deep, dark recesses of my beloved body. My vulnerability has ramped up again.
“We can never know about the days to come/But we think about them anyway…”
I was not going to do this. I have not wanted to live the rest of my life in fear. All the websites that showed up on Facebook for weeks, telling me that all cancer survivors are haunted for the rest of their lives by the possibility of relapse, were not going to gain any traction with me. Still, here I am. Anticipating. Asking the age-old question, “What if?” Even knowing that it is a waste of time to ask it, let alone try to answer it.
If you know the song, do you remember the way Carly Simon elongated the word: way-yay-yatin’? That’s kind of how it feels. Drawn out…moving, not just sitting there. Drawing me on. Ay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-tin’. Creating its own rhythm – keeping me engaged in wondering, attaching me to a dance whose steps I do not know, turning me in circles, over and over until I’m dizzy with waiting.
This is not the anticipation and waiting of wonder and delight and joy and happiness that is its own kind of trip. This is not the anticipation of my 21st birthday, when I would be an “adult” at last. Not the waiting for my children’s births. Not the anticipation of my ordination as a pastor, years ago. Not even the waiting for my 80th birthday, which I greeted eagerly so recently.
This is the anticipation of dread.
Do you remember playing jump rope in the schoolyard when you were in grade school? Gauging the timing when the rope would either hit you in the leg, or pass underneath your body, took anticipation. Add another rope, and now you were in the big leagues. Now you had to jump on one leg at a time to rise above each of the two ropes which kept picking up speed! One/two – one/two – one/two, as long as you could. Anticipation was essential to success! Living in the every nanosecond. It was always breathless! We nearly always ended up laughing and groaning when it came to its ignominious end for each of us.
Amazingly, I was good rope jumper!
Lesson: I’m good at that kind of concentration when I have to be. And that kind of agility of mind and spirit. So I shall concentrate on today’s gifts and let the future go until it becomes the present.
Lesson: “And tomorrow we might not be together/I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways/So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now/And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days/(These are the good old days, these are the good old days, these are the good old days.)”
These are good days. My writing is so much joy. I eagerly anticipate my visit to see family on the 16th after a year and a half away because of COVID. I am wildly engaged with my creativity. Today and each day – I intend to live in the now. Practicing my jump-roping agility (figuratively, of course…)! Indeed. And laughing when I most need to laugh!
Life can still be grace, as it turns out.
And I’m very okay with that!